The European Union (EU) recently announced its plan to boost affordable and clean power supply to Nigerians. As part of efforts to actualise the project, the organisation would invest 165 million euros for the enhancement of solar renewable energy in the country. Head, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, who disclosed this in Abuja, said: “The EU is investing 165 million euros to promote renewable energy in Nigeria like it is doing worldwide.”
According to Karlsen, “We believe this is a very important part of solution to the lack of sustainable, safe and affordable energy in Nigeria, where there are more than 90 million people without access to electricity. Often times, they have to power their businesses with generators, which make their cost of production higher and make them unable to compete with counterparts from other countries.”
This plan by the EU is commendable. Without doubt, Nigeria’s electricity crisis has worsened over the years and the country is in dire need of alternative sources of energy. From the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) to the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and now the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the history of power supply in the country has not been enviable.
Electricity supply in Nigeria has been abysmal. Efforts by successive governments to achieve some stability in the sector have not been successful. Nigeria has 23 power generating plants connected to the national grid with the combined capacity to generate 11,165.4 megawatts (MW) of electric power. But the country hardly generates as much as 4,000 MW daily. For a country with a population of about 200 million, the situation is distressing, as the less than 12, 000 megawatts generated, cannot serve a third of the country’s power requirements. To meet the national power needs, the country should generate a minimum of 40,000 megawatts of electricity.
Even among other African countries, Nigeria’s power generation capacity falls far below expectation. Compared with many other countries in Africa, the situation is lamentable. For example, South Africa, with 56 million people, generates as much as 51,309 megawatts while Egypt, with about 100 million people, generates about 24, 700 megawatts.
In 2017, Nigeria was designated the second worst nation in electricity supply, as the power generation dropped to 3, 851 megawatts.
In September 2013, government took a bold step to privatise the power sector by licensing 14 power generation and distribution companies. The government had believed that the liberalisation of the power sector would significantly increase the 4, 000 megawatts being generated.
Unfortunately, the situation has not changed significantly as electricity supply has remained epileptic. Assurances by the present administration that the sector would be fixed have yielded little results. All over the country, businesses have continued to collapse, with the accompanying widespread poverty. Due to the erratic power supply, the manufacturing, agricultural, and mining sectors have adversely been affected.
The Federal Government should embrace other sources of power generation. Countries like Sweden, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Scotland, Germany, Uruguay, Denmark, China and the United States are using renewable energy. In Africa, Kenya and Morocco are boosting their energy supply with renewable energy.
Early in the year, Israel broke a new record by generating unprecedented amounts of electricity from renewable energy sources.
Nigeria can embrace the model employed by Bangladesh. With nearly half of its population without access to electricity, the country introduced the solar home systems (SHS) to provide electricity to households across the country. By May 2017, over four million households in Bangladesh had benefitted from the project. The World Bank has hailed the SHS model of Bangladesh as the fastest growing solar home system programme in the world. The Federal Government should exploit other sources of power generation such as solar, wind and coal.